Tag Archives: Google

Thus spoke the Oracle

The biggest news in IT happened a couple of weeks ago, when Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google (reddit discussion), in which it claims that:

“Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property. Android (including without limitation the Dalvik VM and the Android software development kit) and devices that operate Android infringe one or more claims of each of United States Patents Nos. 6,125,447; 6,192,476; 5,966,702; 7,426,720; RE38,104; 6,910,205; and 6,061,520″

The lawsuit reminds of the early Java war between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems (technical details): eventually Microsoft and Sun settled on an amount of 20 million dollars and the promise to phase out all Microsoft products that used Microsoft’s Java Virtual Machine.

The most interesting point made during the outrage the last couple of weeks was Miguel de Icaza’s comments on Oracles lawsuit (reddit discussion), which is extremely hilarious but points out good points: Google’s Dalvik engine already marked that discussions between Google and Sun re: Java ME had run on the rocks and that at that stage, Google should have known about any upcoming Java patent lawsuit. Additionally, it also looks the former CEO of Sun specifically pitched the Java patents (“Sue Google” to possible suitors. Icaza further speculates:

Google could settle current damages with Oracle, and switch to the better designed, more pleasant to use, and more open .NET platform.

And that would be extremely ironic. The main question is: If Android is so important to Google, why didn’t it pick up Java by buying Sun while it could do so? At this stage it almost looks like that .Net/Mono is a safer platform than Java (which is something that Icaza has been claiming since, well, ever).

Wave

I suspect that Google Wave is going public really soon now. I signed up for Wave a couple of months ago but got an invitation via Alfons. Just a couple of hours ago, I received my official invitation. How about getting two invitations within 2 days?

My initial thoughts are mixed: Like other social media forms, Wave would work perfectly if you have hundreds of friends and relatives and participants. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its usage. I guess, you could use it as a personal notes keeper for your sources.

When I have time, I’ll have to take a closer look at this.

The Googles

I think The Googles is br0kensome kind of rollout of Google’s ‘warning harmful site ahead’ feature went amuck this morning. Please refrain from clicking the link that says ‘This site..': it’s inaccessible because I suppose everybody in the world is trying to find out what went wrong.

Your trusty Google engineers are on it, and if not, now is a good time to do some snow shoveling if you’re living around the eastern coast of Northern America.

Thank you, and have a great day.

11:41 AM: looks like it was fixed while I was shoveling snow. Coincidence? You decide!

Update 2: Best comment ever: “Is google doing this to me because I’m an atheist?”

Update 3: At the BBC’s, “‘Human error’ hits Google search”.

Morething

Earlier, we were out in Saint John to check out a couple things for things that needed to be done for things in the house-thing. You know, things. So while we were trotting through town, we were surprised how thick the fog-thing was in Saint John. We ended up at Montana’s were I (duly) noted that they had crayons on their tables, so that customers can doodle things on their things while they wait for their food to be served up. How novel. Why not add paint, easel and brushes, so that you can finish up your Van Gogh while your waitress brings you the next coffee fill-up?

So, everybody and their cousins have reviewed Chrome (Google’s entry in the browser market) and you were eager to hear my opinion? I don’t have one: not today. However, while I read that Google used Webkit/KHTML as their renderer, I thought it more or less looked like Gecko. Windows-only. The pity (but then, I’m using both Firefox and Konqueror right now, so what’s the point anyway?)

From all the movies I saw this week, I thought the worst one was ‘The Happening’: currently it’s at a 5.4 rating at IMDB and this is deservedly so. This was Shyamalan’s ninth movie and I wonder if there’s some kind of correlation between the quality and quantity of his movies. I figured it out using simple math:

y = log0.5x

However, the bright side of the movie was Betty Buckley, who blew some ‘fresh air’ (irony strikes here) in the robotic acting of her fellow actors. She’s an award-winning Jazz singer, I hear.

There’s more good news here: I watched a couple of Hal Hartley movies and was surprised how much I liked ‘The Unbelievable Truth’. I’ve seen the movie before but the sharp (and absurd) dialogues keep making me laugh. Excellent use of repetition too.

Know. Knol.

Last week, Google opened their ‘Knol’ site for the general public: It’s a knowledgebase and it’s targeting the other knowledgebase we learnt to hate and love, Wikipedia. The web itself is divided in the (usual) camps: Love it and Hate it. To me, it looks like Google has actually learned from the problems that Wikipedia (still) has: the site is actually a lot easier to read, plus, contributors don’t seem to be hiding behind usernames. For example, there’s this excellent article on colon cancer, which, by far, seem to be more informational than Wikipedia’s entry. Additionally, it seems that Knol contributors seem to disclose their affiliations to commercial entities. I only find Google’s choice of name a bit unfortunate.

The other site I want to mention is NASA images, which is a site, powered by the Internet Archive, that hosts, you guessed it, NASA images from the past. There’s way too much to discover on that site and I wouldn’t do it an honour to try to fit it in a small paragraph: The Spaceflight section is amazing and comprehensive, albeit a kind of obnoxious to navigate through (kind of ‘sliding’ pictures pop-up interface, that isn’t all to user-friendly). Pictures and photos can be zoomed in and downloaded (for free, of course).

And not at all related, I’ve always been impressed with Truthmapping which at one time I considered to be a useful tool for creating test scenarios (can’t find the link right now at xsamplex). Apparently, the only clone (which claims to be superior to Truthmapping) I’ve found is ‘DebatePoint’, which is open-sourced. It sort of reminds me of Halfbaked (which makes an excellent tool for mapping out ideas).

Find what

This weekend, I was surprised to see that Google Maps now also shows photos shot at locations (example): these photos are coming from a new service from Google, Panoramio. The site is very beta-ish, but seeing Google’s weight behind this, I fear for Yahoo!’s FlickR future (Note: Microsoft is still working on a photo site like this, but obviously has this ace (More on PhotoSynth) in the hand).

For no particular reason, I ended up watching a whole bunch of videos about ‘cats and treadmills’. You would almost say it’s the latest craze: throw your cat on a treadmill, tape it, mix it with annoying music and upload it to YouTube.

Also, I watched a couple of clips of ‘That Hillary Show’, a parody done by comedian Rosemary Watson: it’s actually excellent, that is, for amateur video. Not something I’d watch for hours, though, and that only because this kind of political satire wears off really fast. I hope miss Watson finds an agent and that she keeps looking for new things to make fun off.

Which brings me to the last checked item on my list: This comic should look familiar if you’re a Monty Python fan (see here for full scene).

Android

I noticed that Google has released their Android SDK, which is an attempt to break open the cellphone market. There are a couple of exciting things to mention but the most important is that Google has adopted Webkit, you know the main engine used by Safari, which originally came from KDE’s KHTML. Additionally, there’s built-in support for OpenGL:ES (Embedded Systems).

It comes as no surprise that Google has opted for Java as the main language for Android development (application development video). There are mixed messages about which version of Java Google is using: it appears that their engineers came up with their own Java Pcode compiler. Most Android-specific Java libraries appear to be wrappers around the C libraries (see the software stack video).

It’s going to be interesting how this will playout against the other platforms of other software companies, most notably, Windows Mobile for Devices (.Net/CF) and Apple’s portable OS X. Since I’m familiar with writing Windows Mobile applications:if I have time later this week, I may be able to look into Android and see for myself what the buzz is about.

Footprint

I was able to play around with a beta of the upcoming Firefox 3 (which is scheduled for release this year, according to the roadmap) and was a bit underwhelmed mostly because it drags. I was an early adopter of the Gecko-engine: that was back in 1998, 1999 when the project was still in its infancy and called Phoenix. I chose for it because of the program’s small footprint (on several occassions, Alfons afterwards provided me with hand-compiled versions, distributed via his dyndns account). On the other hand, if you compare Firefox to Internet Explorer, at least FireFox obviously tops IE7 standards-wise (Related: LifeHacker’s preview of FireFox 3, Firefox visual refresh).

Then I was asked about my opinion about ‘Android’, or the Open Handset Alliance, an initiative led by (your favourite searchengine) Google. I think this video (or direct link at YouTube) is overly cute but then there is that: I haven’t really used a cell phone in the last past years. When Alfons visited me a month ago, I was startled to see his phone being capable to connect to our local Rogers Network, a feat I wasn’t able to do with my Nokia (company) cellphone when I came over here the first time in 1999 (that is, my provider suggested me to buy a different phone and switch SIM cards). But back to Android: it’s software for the cellphone (or mobile petgadget) and comes with an operating system, middleware and ‘key mobile applications’.

Talking about Google: I was alerted of the fact that my Gmail now sports a new interface. At first I didn’t notice the difference and just now, I found out that I still don’t get what exactly changed (except for slight rounded corners at some spots). I assume that the ‘new thing’ is that Google has finally ported all generic HTML components to their own ‘webkit’ components, a kit which you can find around here (open-sourced).

Das Assortiment

Assorted links, noteworthy and that:

Just last week, an EA executive said that rivaling console makers should concentrate on making a single gaming platform. According to him, incompatible consoles made life harder for both developers and customers. Not surprising, the article reminds of this one time Microsoft initiative to create a common home computer platform, called MSX. Hey, you’ve heard it here before!

Sandisk is on a litigation rampage. It filed suit against 25 companies, claiming that they infringed on patents for a technology that most likely was not invented in their labs. The sun is free and that.

Via Alfons, I found out Google’s ‘Current Time Trick’, which allows you to find out what time it is in your favourite international city or capital of the world. If you weren’t already aware of this, to do this trick, you MUST HAVE INTERNET ACCESS of course. I throw in another trick: Windows only, if you keep the alt-key pressed in and click an icon on the desktop it will open the icon’s (program/shortcut) property-sheet. See also ‘Shell extensions’ in your Windows SDK book.

So, hey, KeePass, the password keeper software I have adopted since ages, has moved to .Net, and to be precise, its 2.0 version is written in C#. The source packages compile perfectly (without problems) in any Visual Studio version as long as you don’t forget to enter the right key number. For the unmanaged libraries, you may need to have a C/C++ compiler.

And last but not least, Gimp 2.4 was officially released yesterday, which comes with many exciting features, like… well, see for yourself.